Building the Soccer Pyramid:
Long road could lead to huge expansion for USL PRO
It’s not often that the lower tiers of the North American soccer pyramid intrude on the collective consciousness of Major League Soccer.
There are exceptions, obviously. Think about Cal FC in the 2012 US Open Cup, the recent NASL rebirth of the New York Cosmos, Dom Dwyer’s successful loan to USL PRO Orlando City SC last season, or even the fact that Orlando will be the fifth team to join MLS after existing in a lower division, after Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and Montreal. But are MLS fans really paying enough attention to the quickly shifting landscape beneath their feet?
They certainly should be. Look no further than the new aura surrounding USL PRO, the US Soccer Federation’s third-tier league. In 2013, MLS and USL cemented an agreement to integrate MLS’s Reserve League into USL PRO with the hope that by the end of 2015, every MLS club will either own a third-division team or affiliate with an existing club in order to improve player development.http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2014/03/21/building-soccer-pyramid-long-road-could-lead-huge-expansion-usl-proBuilding the Soccer Pyramid:
Cash is king for aspiring USL PRO squads
Right now, there are operational professional soccer teams in 39 different markets across the first three tiers of US Soccer – MLS, NASL and USL PRO – and if everything goes according to plan, 2015 will see another two markets enter the fold.
But if you accept USL PRO president Tim Holt’s evaluation of the North American soccer landscape, that means we’re only at 50 percent capacity.
“I think there are anywhere between 50 to 75 different markets in the United States that can support, under the right circumstances, a professional soccer team,” Holt tells MLSsoccer.com. “It’s not the craziest thing. You’re talking about another 20 to 30 markets, potentially, that don’t have professional soccer that could support professional soccer.”http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2014/04/04/building-soccer-pyramid-cash-king-aspiring-usl-pro-squads